The Many Uses of Infrared Thermography

by | Mar 13, 2014 | Infrared

Infrared thermography is one of the most widely used predictive maintenance (PdM) tools in the industry today.  With a wide range of applications and benefits, many facilities and PdM providers utilize this technology on a variety of diverse and unique equipment.   Simply put, this technology allows one to see variations in temperature by detecting energy in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum.  These temperature differences can be measured and captured as well, allowing for easy reporting and documentation.  But, how can this affect the maintenance, production, or reliability at your facility?

These differences in temperature can indicate anomalies that are not detectible by the human eye.  Identification and elimination of these anomalies can have a wide range and variety of potential benefits for your facility.  Here are some common uses of infrared thermography in regards to predictive maintenance:

  • Electrical components – poor connections, overloaded circuits
  • Rotating and/or mechanical equipment – increased friction, bearing degradation, excessive motor temperature
  • Steam Trap evaluations – faulty, blocked, or malfunctioning steam traps
  • Insulation anomalies – boiler applications, building applications, and more
  • Roofing damage – wet or inadequate roofing material
  • Energy loss evaluations – tempered/conditioned air leaks
  • Many, many more unique scenarios

All of the anomalies listed above can have a negative effect on your facility.  Some of the effects include financial loss, safety issues, production interruption, process inefficiencies, as well as a variety of others.  Implementing an effective infrared program will help make your facility more reliable, safe, and financially responsible.

As important and beneficial as it is to implement an infrared program, you must also consider the costs.  Purchasing a camera and investing in training can be quite costly.  While there are more inexpensive infrared cameras on the market today than in the past, be careful to select the appropriate camera for the scope of your work.  Some of the inexpensive cameras are designed more for diagnostic work and not for a proper predictive route that allows for documentation and report generation.  Image quality and inaccurate temperature readings can also be an issue.  Not all facilities can justify purchasing a camera and training, so they often turn to a trusted vendor to provide these services for them.  Either approach can be beneficial and rewarding, but it is important to be aware and realistic about your specific situation.

Infrared thermography should be a part of your predictive maintenance plan, if it isn’t already.  With the variety of applications listed above, it should not be hard to find some benefit to investing in the use of this technology.  Take some time to re-evaluate the infrared program at your facility.  Chances are, you will have a lot to gain if you do.


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